10 August 2012

Le nozze di Figaro at Glyndebourne (2012)

My fourth trip to Glyndebourne this season was to see The Marriage of Figaro, or Le nozze di Figaro as they prefer to call it.

This was the family trip which meant taking Dad (81) and eldest son (21). Youngest son not interested.

The logistics of getting us all there were complicated by Dad's age and son's commitment to an Ultimate (a.k.a. Frisbee) training session in Southampton and I did a lot of driving in three days to collect and return people.

The weather was kind to us and this was by far the most pleasant day in Glyndebourne this year and I think it is the first one where the patio heaters were not required.

We started the afternoon with tea and scones in Mildmay. The Archbishop of Canterbury was on the adjoining table. Celeb spotting is another Glyndebourne tradition and while I've seen lots of people famous enough for me to know them none have been special enough for me to make an effort to talk to. I only grunted at Michael Portillo last time because he parked next to us so that does not count.

After three cups of tea I took advantage of the good weather to walk around the lake. There were several new statues along the way and pride of place went to the diver at the far end.

After the walk there was just enough time to go to the Long Bar for the traditional, and most welcome, glass of Pimm's.

At the sound of the first bell we made our way up to the Upper Circle where we had fairly central seats in the front row. This is the view that £110 gets you.

I like this part of the house I like the best, mainly because it is about half the price of the Circle below and I think the view is just as good, if not better.

The last Figaro that I saw at Glyndebourne had a modern minimalist staging and it was immediately clear that this was going to be more normal as we see a full street scene welcoming the return of the Count and his wife. The classic car was bit of a surprise and it got one of the best reactions of the night.

The rotating stage was used to move between sets. We had several indoor and outside scenes and the stage just rotated between them. Obviously some clever work was being done behind the scenes to change one set for another as the turntable could only hold three scenes and more were required.

Clever stuff but not too clever to be distracting. Likewise each of the scenes were rich in detail and decoration but only enough to enhance the story and not too much to overpower it.

Figaro is a popular opera because of its complex plot (A pretends to be B which fools C but not D who plays along with the joke) and the range of lead characters.

Making the first impression is the Count. When he appears at the door of Susanna's room we know exactly what is on his mind.

The women are the strong characters in the story and while the Count and Figaro may think that they are in control at times it is really the Countess and Susanna who make sure that we get to a happy ending.

The acting is excellent and that makes the opera immensely watchable. The music is by Mozart so you know what to expect. There are no grand moments, no stand-out arias, but there are no weak moments either.

If this production has a weakness then it is in some of the singing. Again there is nothing particularly wrong with any of it but nor does any of it grab you. This was clearly a shared view and during the curtain calls there were no shouts of "bravo" and no stamping of feet - both of which you expect at Glyndebourne.

I guess that makes Figaro just an average Glyndebourne production, though, as I have said before, that is a high average and it was still a superb family day out. We'll be back next August.

1 comment:

  1. My local cinema (The Phoenix in East Finchley) is screening this next Friday night. I've never been to the opera before so I'm looking forward to my first taste of it.


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